September 23, 2017

Yanks in Deutschland: Matchdays 9 and 10 Edition

This weekly series tracks the performances of U.S. players in the German Bundesliga. Currently, a key group of American players ply their trade in the German top flight and on the U.S. Mens National Team. This group of players continues the contemporary trend of Americans playing in the German Bundesliga.

Outside of Major League Soccer (MLS), you will find the most important group of U.S. footballers in the German Bundesliga. The reasons for this phenomenon vary, but historically can be largely attributed to the presence of U.S. citizens – especially military personnel – marrying Germans, having kids, and those kids growing up playing football in Germany. Moreover, German clubs, with their emphasis on youth development, have been quite welcoming to U.S. youngsters.

The Yanks in Deutschland trends continues. I know, I know: I got behind, so you’re getting a double-dose of matchdays in this piece (MDs 9-10). So let’s see how the Americans fared these past couple weeks …

Current Americans in the Bundesliga 

John Brooks (defender, Hertha BSC) – Well, the regular starter for the USMNT has finaly been given a moniker by us. Mr. Brooks, as he’s wont to do now, played all 90′ in Hertha BSC’s last two matches (a 1-0 loss at Hoffenheim and a 3-0 utter demolition of Gladbach). Brooks was great in both matches, especially the Friday night take down of the Foals. As usual in  Hertha’s cautious system, Brooks, along with his fellow centerback, was a team leader in ball touches and passes. Overall, Brooks is a 90% pass completer, but don’t salivate too much, since he’s mostly playing square balls laterally, like during Matchday 10 against Gladbach:

John Brooks' passing work against Hoffenheim on Matchday 10. (Courtesy of Squawka.com)
John Brooks’ passing work against Gladbach on Matchday 10. (Courtesy of Squawka.com)

Hopefully, he can continue to develop the vertical passing intelligence and skill of a Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, or even Marc Bartra. When this happens, you know bigger clubs will begin clamoring for the centerback during the transfer windows. Regardless, Brooks continues to develop into a star centerback – a valuable asset in football, indeed!

Timothy Chandler (fullback, Eintracht Frankfurt) – 2016-17 has been Chandler’s best season to date. Too bad it’s only 10 matches old. However, Timmy’s been absolutely essential on the right flank for the successful Eintracht this season. His last couple matches were industrious and solid for the American, who – in his own indomitable way – seemed piqued about his latest call up to the USNMT when interviewed after his side’s 1-0 win over 1.FC Köln; however, most importantly I learned that Chandler has a legendary nickname in the USMNT dressing room. In contrast to  my own ornithological nicknames for Timmy, “J-Lo” is a royalty name. Well earned, Timmy. Still, Chandler has been flying high the flank with an average position at or well around the halfway line. Perhaps having his full health has allowed Chandler to reach new performance heights.

Julian Green (forward, Bayern Munich) – Yes, my friends! Yes! There was a Julian Green sighting two weeks ago in the Pokal as Green scored a goal in Bayern’s 3-1 win over FC Augsburg:

Green drifts perfectly into position between, first, two defenders, then two more defenders, who all seemed to be ball-watching. Finally, Green – his arms spread for balance – headed in the goal with a downward angle and bounce. We’ll take it, America. Anything to get Green’s confidence up and tempt Carlo Ancelotti into starting him again. Green is also part of the 26 man roster called up for the U.S.’s latest WCQ match (against Mexico!) on Friday.

Aron Jóhannsson (forward, Werder Bremen) – No new Bundesliga news for Jóhannsson, who didn’t feature in either of Werder’s two losses in MDs 9-10. Recently, Jóhannsson has said the right things about trying to regain first team status, even as he admits his own impatience. However, the Iclandic-American was called up to Jürgen Klinsmann’s USMNT roster for this international break.

Fabian Johnson (midfielder, Borussia Mönchengladbach) – Johnson was fantastic in Gladbach’s Pokal win over VfB Stuttgart a couple weeks ago, scoring 1 goals and earning 1 assist.

However, the past couple Bundesliga matches were subpar both for Gladbach and for Johnson, who was sick during this time (he missed Gladbach’s home UCL match against Celtic FC). On Matchday 10 against Hertha, Johnson was subbed on in the first half (!) for Patrick Herrmann, robbing Johnson of his recovery time. And he looked pedestrian. Nevertheless, Johnson has been playing the best football of his career in spots this season. If only he’d be more consistent, or more consistently positioned by coach Andre Schubert.

Alfredo Morales (midfielder, FC Ingolstadt) – No new news about Morales, who was not in the squad for Ingolstadt these last two matchdays. Quiet times for the American. Naturally, no call up to the USMNT for Morales.

Christian Pulisic (midfielder, Borussia Dortmund) – Pulisic continues to his stunning development as a bona fide star, seemingly entering an “already been here before” stage. Pulisic continues to routinely make BVB’s starting lineup and continues to make a big difference when he’s on the pitch, adding a now trademark directness to Dortmund’s attack. (His absence, due to sickness, was quite obvious as BVB limped into a penalty shootout win in its Pokal match against Union Berlin). Pulisic has no goals lately – some very close calls! but an assist in BVB’s 4-1 cratering of HSV.

However, in the buildup to the U.S.’s WCQ clash against archrival Mexico, Pulisic has become the public face of American soccer, being featured in the likes of this Grant Wahl / Sports Illustrated profile or this Roger Bennett / Vice Sports short documentary:

Bobby Wood (forward, Hamburger SV) – Well, at least Bobby’s HSV doubled its season goal output from 2 to 4 in the 2-5 loss to Dortmund. The bad news from an American perspective? Bobby didn’t score them. It’s been a dry spell for Wood, but even drier for HSV. Perhaps Wood will be spending next season back in the 2.Bundesliga? Somebody, relegate HSV now, please. The club is this bad.

Next Year’s Bobby Wood? 

Andrew Wooten (forward, SV Sandhausen) – This part of the series tracks a Yank who’s the most likely candidate to make the jump from the 2. Bundesliga to the top flight next season. Like Bobby Wood did from Union Berlin to HSV. On Matchday 11, Wooten was not in the squad for SVS; however, he had a goal and an assist on Matchday 12, as his side beat 1860 Munich 3-2 in a fun match. Moreover, Andrew netted a goal against SC Freiburg in the second round of the Pokal, as his 2nd division advanced to the 3rd round. In all competitions, Wooten has 6 goals and 2 assists in 12 appearances. Not bad at all. In the absence of standout performances from other yanks on my list, Wooten gets the technical nod for our “Yank of the Week.”

On the Bubble 

Terrence Boyd (forward, RB Leipzig II) – On October 28th, Boyd scored a goal for RB Leipzig II in the club’s 2-0 win over VfB Auerbach in the Regionalliga Nordost. He has 3 goals in 6 matches for RBL II this season. In other news, RB Leipzig doesn’t seem to want their American.

Devante Parker (midfielder, Mainz 05 II) – The younger of the Parker brothers has played in 672 minutes through 11 matches for Mainz’s reserve side. He still has 1 goal.

Shawn Parker (forward, loan from Mainz 05 II to 1.FC Nürnberg) – The older of the Parker brothers hasn’t on the squad – again! – for Der Club. Thus far, Parker has been subbed in 4 times this season. Fallow times for the center forward.

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Travis serves as an editor and regular columnist here. He writes for Howler magazine's website. Born and groomed in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Travis is a college English instructor in Pittsburgh. Coffee, books, and coaching the U8s are his passions. His writing has also appeared in Bloomberg Sports, the Good Man Project, and his former blog, Sportisourstory.tumblr.com, and elsewhere. He tweets at @tptimmons. Heja BVB!

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